Fruitvale residents to vote for their next Council Member.

Less than a few days away from Election Day, incumbent Noel Gallo of District 5 has not wasted any time to promote his campaign for re-election.  This year his running up against, Viola Gonzales, a self-business owner with a drive to strengthen Oakland’s economy.

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In front of Guadalajara Restaurant, a group of volunteers and residents of Fruitvale are lined up with both English and Spanish signs, ” Manos Por la Paz” and ” Honk for Peace”. The children spell out “Jesus” as they are  standing near sidewalk by  Fruitvale Ave.  The group meets every Friday Night. At dusk on October 21, 2016.

On Friday night a group of volunteers crowded around in front Guadalajara Restaurant, wearing neon vests that read Public Works volunteer, gleefully lined up on the sidewalk of Fruitvale Ave. Mexican folk music played in the background, as volunteers waved their cardboard signs in mid-air, the majority reading the same message, “Honk for peace” and “Respect Oakland.”

An hour later the group marched off, starting from Fruitvale Ave to 42nd street, voices echoed the streets, “Safe Streets, Safe Kids.”  All while being led by Gallo and his team, as they coordinated to stop traffic while group walked in a single file.  

“He doesn’t send his team do all the work, he’s present,” said Martha Rico.  A local resident of Fruitvale,  who has seen Gallo lead parents and children to peaceful marches on Friday nights.

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Council Member, Noel Gallo from District 5 is present during the peaceful demonstration, holding up a red cardboard sign, “Respect Oakland”, surrounded by children.  The location is Guadalajara Restaurant where children and adults meet to march the streets of Fruitvale,  Gallo’s sponsored program, Safe streets for safe kids.  They meet  between hours of 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. October 21, 2016. 

As for the safety of the community members that work at Fruitvale’s local businesses, an employee of  Eli’s Beauty Salon noticed a reduction of robberies.  “I believe the security of the community helps the economy, especially for the business,” said Alma Torres.

While employee Carlos Nuerta from Dulceria La Rosa noticed very little progress, “Some things have changed, but there still prostitution”, said  Nuerta.  Around 9 p.m. between  36th and International, Nuerta who for years has been living in Fruitvale, has ” noticed prostitutes have relocated there,” occasionally  right after giving his sister a lift home.

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Viola Gonzales. Photo from Viola Gonzales website. 

In spite of the achievements that Gallo has accomplished in the past four years.  Candidate, Viola Gonzales disapproves  of Gallo’s economic skills to improve Oakland’s District 5.

“We cannot run a city where 65 percent of our budget is tied up to over out public safety costs–fire and police,” said Gonzales.

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Standing inside her booth, poses Martha Rico, at the Dia De Los Muertos event at Fruitvale Station.  Selling Dia De Los Muertos shirts and sweaters to raise money for youth programs and Career Centers from Unity Council.  Often their programs have meetings and has seen Gallo once at their community meeting,”I have much respect for Noel Gallo,” said Rico. October 30, 2016.

As for  Gonzales’ campaign, her goals are to improve Oakland’s economy and addressing  local businesses concerns over the lack of attention that has been received from Gallo’s team.

In Glenview or small businesses along International Boulevard in Fruitvale, they will tell you how they feel that their needs and ideas for solutions have fallen on deaf ears,” said Gonzales.

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Hugo Guerrero, left, owner of Hugo’s Travel and Agency located in Fruitvale.  Standing proudly next to a poster that he placed outside his business location, Vote Viola Gonzales. One of the concerns that Guerrero faces is parking, locals from Fruitvale leave their cars parked from 8 am-7 p.m. near his business.  “They don’t want to pay seven dollars for the BART station parking.” and has been affecting his business with clients.

Business owner Hugo T. Guerrero who owns a Tour and Travel agency has been living in Fruitvale for 43 years.  Has known Gonzales for six years, “Viola has good ideas” and with very little business in Fruitvale he fears,” Middle-class businesses will disappear  in a couple of years.”

According to volunteer Eduardo Jimenez for Viola’s campaign,  Gallo had not helped local businesses when they asked for a bigger parking lot .”Came to meet them, and said ‘well tell me when you have the money’, it was $4,000,000 million budget,” said Jimenez.

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 A  woman poses with a cardboard sign “Manos Por La Paz” translating  Hands for peace. Many volunteers were part of  a  clergy that came to support Noel Gallo’s Campaign and led a prayer Friday Night before they started their march.  At Guadalajara Restaurant , corner of Fruitvale Ave. October 21, 2016.

Gallo’s campaign was unavailable to answer questions due to their busy schedules for the upcoming elections.

As for Candidate Gonzales, the most important part of winning this election is by addressing its community members concerns,  “ Our residents speak of a local government that is not either listening to their concerns or asking them to help solve these issues.”

No matter who wins this upcoming election, it really comes down to two things. Addressing Oakland’s impoverished economy and maintaining a safer atmosphere for community members and businesses.

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A group of girls wearing neon vests, reading City of Oakland, Public Works Volunteer. The children were side by side with their parents, marching from Fruitvale to 42nd street and back to Fruitvale Bart Station in the demonstration for Safe Streets equal Safe Kids. 

Reporter/PhotoJournalist: Cristabell Fierros

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